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Police officers in Camden, north London, are deliberately targeting kids under-18 for arrest just so their DNA samples can be taken.

The Met denies any such action has taken place, but an anonymous police officer told The Ham and High: "It is part of a long term crime prevention strategy. We are often told that we have just one chance to get that DNA sample and if we miss it that might mean a rape or a murder goes unsolved in the future.

"Have we got targets for young people who have not been arrested yet? The answer is yes. But we are not just waiting outside schools to pick them up, we are acting on intelligence. If you know you have had your DNA taken and it is on a database then you will think twice about committing burglary for a living."

The paper used a Freedom of Information request to reveal that 386 under-18s had DNA samples taken last year and 169 have already had samples taken this year.

But a spokesman for the Met Police said: "There is not a crime prevention strategy in Camden for taking DNA. Police patrols and operations are conducted following regular and considered analysis of intelligence and information within national guidelines.

"Whilst any DNA samples obtained following arrest can lead to more serious crimes being solved, we do not actively seek to obtain DNA for this purpose... Teenagers are not arrested purely on the basis to obtain DNA samples."

The Home Office tweaked the rules for the national DNA database in response to defeat in the European Court of Human Rights. These proposals will still allow the storing of people's DNA for 12 years or six years for minor offences - that's assuming they are arrested but not charged.

Children arrested but not convicted will have their records destroyed when they turn 18. The Lords are considering the measures at the moment. ®

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